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(Page 7 of 10)
Drive to the Playoffs

Six reasons why the Rangers have clinched

Monday, 03.19.2012 / 10:30 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers were the last NHL team to play a home game due to renovations on Madison Square Garden that carried into October, but they became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff spot with a 4-2 home win against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.

Here are a few reasons the Rangers find themselves in the postseason with a little less than three weeks left in the regular season.
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Monday has playoff implications for nine teams

Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:46 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Win and they're in. Lose ... well, they still can get in if that happens, but the New York Rangers are focused on the positives.

If the Rangers pick up at least a point Monday when they host the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN2), they'll become the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

The Rangers still have to deal with the on-rushing Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, but with both of those teams having the night off, a win would allow them to open up some breathing room atop the Eastern Conference.

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Playoff Pulse: Tippett wins 400th; Coyotes in seventh

Monday, 03.19.2012 / 12:23 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Dave Tippett enjoyed a very special night in Edmonton on Sunday.

Not only did the Phoenix Coyotes' coach earn his 400th career victory, but his team moved into seventh place in the Western Conference with a 3-2 shootout win against the Oilers at Rexall Place.

The Coyotes are banging on the door for the No. 3 seed, as they pulled even with the Dallas Stars at 83 points apiece. However, Dallas remains in first place because it has a game in hand on the Coyotes. The teams will clash at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.

"You look at the way the game went and we weren't playing the way we needed to be," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. "They played really, well but we were just able to find a way. We're feeling a bit fortunate right now."
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Playoff Pulse: Blues become first team to clinch berth

Sunday, 03.18.2012 / 1:39 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Jaden Schwartz enjoyed a night he'll never forget Saturday in Tampa Bay. In the process, he made it a memorable night for his St. Louis Blues, too.

The highly-touted prospect scored on his first NHL shot on goal to help the Blues become the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot with a 3-1 win against the Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Schwartz's tally proved to be the game-winner for the Blues, who also became the first team to reach 100 points this season. Not bad considering this is the same team that won six of its first 13 games and ultimately changed coaches.
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Senators' win puts them on top in Northeast

Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 1:07 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

With three weeks left in the regular season, the surprising Ottawa Senators find themselves in first place in the Northeast Division.

The Senators jumped over Boston on Friday night by outlasting the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in overtime before a packed house at Scotiabank Place. The win gives the Senators 84 points, one more than the Bruins -- though Boston does have two games in hand.

Ottawa overcame a dreadful night by its power play, which went 0-for-9 and allowed a shorthanded goal, thanks to a third-period goal by Colin Greening that forced OT and Filip Kuba's game-winner 3:09 into the extra period.

"It's obviously good; we'll enjoy it tonight," coach Paul MacLean said. "The team has worked real hard. We've said all along, ‘We don't know where we're going to be until we play 82 games.' Once we do that, we'll see where we are and go from there."
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Penguins a perfect 10 in Crosby's return

Friday, 03.16.2012 / 1:53 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

With or without Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the hottest team in the NHL.

After winning nine in a row without their captain, the Penguins celebrated his return on Thursday night by extending their winning streak to 10 with a dominating 5-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Coach Dan Bylsma lived up to his promise not to overwork Crosby, who hadn't played since Dec. 5 due to concussion symptoms -- he played just 16:00, but that was enough time to earn an assist and go plus-3. Equally valuable was the return of top defenseman Kris Letang, who had an assist and was plus-5 in 24:22 of ice time.
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Blues in position tonight to be first team to clinch

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 12:48 PM / Drive to the Playoffs
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the surprises of the 2011-12 NHL season, and they can continue their impressive rise to elite status Thursday night by becoming the first team to clinch a spot in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

St. Louis needs two points against Carolina at newly-named PNC Arena, and the Blues need Calgary and San Jose to lose their home games in regulation, to the Coyotes and Predators, respectively. If those three things happen, the Blues will be the first team to earn an invitation to the NHL's "big dance."

It has been a remarkable season for the Blues. After decades of being a model of consistency, including an NHL-record 25 consecutive postseason berths, St. Louis has been to the playoffs only once in the past six seasons -- a first-round exit in 2008-09.

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Shootout win puts Avs back in top eight in West

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 1:17 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

In the space of a few minutes on Wednesday night, the Colorado Avalanche went from no points to two points and a place in the top eight in the Western Conference.

The Avs dominated the Sabres for most of the night in Buffalo, but were just a couple of seconds away from going home with nothing -- the Sabres held a 4-3 lead as rookie Gabriel Landeskog led one final rush. Landeskog's shot missed, but Ryan O'Reilly dug out the puck and flung it desperately toward the crease. The pass slithered through everyone and sat just in front of the goal line, where Jamie McGinn swatted it in with 2 seconds left to tie the game.

After a scoreless overtime, the Avs continued their dominance in the shootout as Peter Mueller scored and Semyon Varlamov stopped all three Buffalo shooters for a stunning 5-4 win -- Colorado's ninth in 10 tiebreakers this season.
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Caps extend eighth-place margin in East

Wednesday, 03.14.2012 / 1:38 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

It took the Washington Capitals nearly two periods to get going against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Once they started, the Caps didn't stop until they left Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with two much-needed points.

The Caps trailed 4-1 entering the final minute of the second period and had been thoroughly outplayed by the Isles until Alex Ovechkin scored with 52.4 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to two goals. Goals by rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov and Ovechkin tied the game, and Matt Hendricks' shootout winner gave Washington a stunning 5-4 win.

The victory gives the eighth-place Caps 78 points, putting them four ahead of Buffalo and six in front of Winnipeg after winning the opener of a five-game road trip.
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Playoff Pulse: Avs move into eighth in West

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 1:27 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Gabriel Landeskog
Left Wing - COL
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 44
SOG: 235 | +/-: 20
Gabriel Landeskog was ill enough Monday morning to stay out of the Colorado Avalanche's morning skate. Roughly 12 hours later, he helped his club move into playoff position in the Western Conference.

The 19-year-old rookie beat Jonas Hiller at 1:52 of overtime to lift the Avs to a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center. The win moved Colorado (37-30-4) into eighth place in the West, two points ahead of the Calgary Flames. Calgary was idle Monday night and fell from eighth place to 10th as the San Jose Sharks also moved ahead of the Flames with a win at Edmonton.

"It was one of those games where I didn't know if I was going to be able to contribute out there," Landeskog said. "I kind of hung in there. I thought I was holding our line down a little bit. I was struggling most of the game, but those are the kind of games where you have to take it one shift at a time, take short shifts and kind of let my teammates do the job. To get an opportunity in OT, I just wanted to get it on net for it to go in."
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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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